The Sedition Act of 1798

For thefirst few years of Constitutional government, under the
leadership of George Washington, there was a unity, commonly called
Federalism that even James Madison (the future architect of the Republican
Party) acknowledged in describing the Republican form of government–“
And according to the degree of pleasure and pride we feel in being
republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit and supporting
the character of Federalists.”Although legislators had serious
differences of opinions, political unity was considered absolutely
essential for the stability of the nation.Political parties or factions
were considered evil as”Complaints are everywhere heard from our most
considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and
private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are
too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival
parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the
rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior
force of an interested and overbearing majority_”Public perception of
factions were related to British excesses and thought to be “the mortal
diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished.” James
Madison wrote in Federalist Papers #10, “By a faction, I understand a
number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the
whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of
interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and
aggregate interests of the community.”He went on to explain that faction
is part of human nature; “that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and
that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.”
The significant point Madison was to make in this essay was that the Union
was a safeguard against factions in…


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